Confucius made regular use of the device of comparing the lofty values of a leader with the base instincts of a small-minded man. In Chapter XI of Book 4, for example, he comments that while the former “cherishes virtue” the latter only cares about the accumulation of material possessions. A leader thus focuses on improving himself in order to better contribute to the common good of society, while a small-minded man is only concerned on extracting as many benefits as possible from it. Continue reading Analects Book 4: virtue never stands alone
Goodness is such an ambiguous concept that even Confucius shied away from attaching an exact meaning to it. He found it much easier to describe the benefits that the cultivation of a strong internal sense of goodness can bring to people rather than defining its precise features. Continue reading Analects Book 4: on goodness
Confucius can certainly never be accused of sugarcoating the difficulties that any would-be student would face if he chose to follow his path. He promises no seven-step plan to guaranteed success or shortcut to fortune and fame. Continue reading Analects Book 4: on learning
Book 4 of the Analects begins with an exploration of the meaning of goodness. Only people who practice it constantly in their daily lives without a desire for personal profit are able to enjoy true satisfaction and contentment. “Small-minded men” who only pursue it for personal gain will never be truly fulfilled and happy. Continue reading Analects Book 4: Overview
Although Book 3 of the Analects is dominated by the subject of rites, it does also touch on a few other themes, most notably leadership and the glories of ancient Chinese culture. Click on the links below for the full story. Continue reading Analects Book 3: Resources
Confucius never defines exactly what he means by the rites in Book 3 of the Analects. Instead, he spends most of his energy on criticizing others, most notably members of the Three Families, for their violations of the unwritten rules governing important ritual ceremonies that had presumably existed since at least the beginnings of the Zhou dynasty in the early 11th century and probably even before that. Continue reading Analects Book 3: fighting for the rites
With civilization collapsing around him as multiple states and factions within them fought for control of China, Confucius looked back to the “golden age” at the beginning of the Zhou dynasty in the 11th century BC as the model for restoring stability and culture to the country. Continue reading Analects Book 3 on culture: I follow the Zhou!
“A leader avoids competing with others.” This is the advice that Confucius gives in Chapter VII of Book 3 of the Analects. He forges his own path rather than just trying to outdo other people. Continue reading Analects Book 3: on leadership and archery